In the process, I've gotten back in touch with people from my childhood, former students, and former colleagues. We have received sweet notes of encouragement and amazing care packages from all over. I've even gotten a few suggestions for grammar and spelling corrections. :) We are blessed to have such a strong support system of friends and family to help us along the way.
In this crazy journey I've also found other people who are living and working in schools overseas, including a former student who is teaching art in Croatia. I would love to be able to visit with him and meet his wife, also a teacher, if we ever get to that part of Europe. I have been been helped tremendously along the way by some amazing friends who have both taught in Germany. They have moved from one end of the country to another, and their observations about life and culture overseas always keep me laughing (and inspire me to get my family to somewhere where we can experience more of the local culture). As I was leaving Texas, another colleague accepted a job to Morocco and is now teaching there. I should mention that one of the places I most want to visit is Marrakech (blame it on Indiana Jones), so I am in total awe of her experiences. When I complain about hardships here, I have to really shut up because I could be in Uganda like one of my former teacher/librarian colleagues who is doing amazing work with Libraries of Love (look it up!). And now, I am really looking forward to hearing from a Cuba colleague who sadly left us, but will be moving to Zambia in a few weeks to teach.
The point is this: the world is there for the taking. There are opportunities out there if you want to serve the military as a DoDDS teacher, or if you want to work for charitable educational organizations, or if you want to work for a private international school. All give you opportunities to travel and see the world (although, ironically, I am at the one place where you really can't do that). I have hope that we will one day move on, and I am going to enjoy every minute while we are here.
One of the big catch phrases of education the last few years has been "digging data." All apologies to my teacher friends---that phrase probably makes you want to gag and/or puke. Sorry. But here are some numbers from the year of the blog:
Blog views, as of this very minute: 8,601
Visitors are most often from: US (duh), Germany (yes, we know people there), and Russia. Russia? Would someone from Russia message me so I know you really exist?
My favorite post so far? It would be the very bittersweet story of my childhood neighbor Todd, who died suddenly this past year. It was by far the easiest one to write---what you read is pretty much the first and only draft. I woke up my husband pounding away on the laptop keyboard after midnight---blogging is a good cure for insomnia (as I'm sure reading some of these entries are, as well). As a result of this post, I've gotten back in touch with his mom and sisters and met his fiancé--yes, more bittersweetness. ("Goodbye; or, For Todd")
My other favorite entry also has nothing to do with Gitmo, but it about my thoughts on being a wanderer instead of a nester ("The question I hate; or, (d) none of the above").
The two Cuba entries I like most are the story about my son having "drive by friends" ("Drive-bys in Gitmo; or, How a Gang Took My Youngest and Brought Back Pigpen") and the story about the crazy Christmas parade where we left a little beaten up ("Merry Christmas Parade! or, How I Survived a Drive-by Assault"). Is it a coincidence that both entries have the word "drive-by" in the title? What does that say about me???
Anywho,here's a quick rundown of the last year, in 59 blog posts. Excuse the overuse of "I" and "me," and please accept that I don't use my family members' names/faces on here because they would have their own blogs if they wanted everyone in their business. (If you do want to see more of my dashingly handsome guys, you can always check out my facebook page).
1. I arrived in Cuba in one piece
2. I got ready for a hurricane
3. I survived Hurricane Sandy
4. Travel complications and delays with my family
5. Kids arrive, just in time for Halloween, Gitmo style
6. Our family takes our first trip to the beach
7. I list the good, the bad, and decide we're entered a time warp
8. We have our first hutia encounter, and we buy a car
9. My son's merman moves finally pay off
10. I dig up trees out of a stranger's yard
11. We go to one of the weirdest Christmas parades ever
12. There is no crack at Gitmo, but there is Whitney Houston in Cuba
13. Our mail goes to Oman---lost mail story, take 1
14. Gitmo is not Cuba
15. 15K lbs of our fine quality junk finally make it to Cuba
16. The unpacking and purging begins
17. More unpacking and the bread shortage begins
18. My youngest child joins a gang
19. I contemplate "home"
20. Some things never change, but the few surprises are sweet
21. I finally find Rodney, our squirrel
22. There are more things to love here to add to the list
23. Our school is different than your school
24. I am doing lots of running (and thinking)
25. We go to a Mardi Gras celebration
26. The banana rats start to grow on me
27. I am still unpacking, and we do a crazy fun run
28. I take a fun trip to Leeward on the ferry
29. More new experiences, including a 5K, and we get a new car
30. I try my hand at more gardening
31. I get all crafty
32. More lessons learned and my parents visit
33. We celebrate our 6 month Gitmo anniversary
34. Analogy time! This one is my dream destination = large supermarket
35. I actually talk about books and my job
36. I'm becoming my mom, and that's not a bad thing.
37. I go on some very unique and fun field trips
38. More arts and crafts!
39. Pictures and stories about some wildlife we've encountered
40. I find hidden treasure in strange places
41. We save a baby bird!
42. I lament the lack of groceries
43. Lost mail story, take 2 and 3 (Spain, Italy)
44. First trip back to the U.S. in 9 months (aka culture shock)
45. Reflections on a whirlwind trip to the US and back
46. Goodbye to a childhood friend
47. More frustrations with---you guessed it---groceries and mail
48. First time visits to a new (for us) beach and my first fenceline tour
49. What I didn't do on vacation
50. I consider killing a wild chicken
51. Anniversary of a job offer, and some reflections
52. A crazy first few weeks back on the job
53. Lost mail story, take four (Egypt)
54. Scuba diving mishaps
55. Fun terrorism training
56. The government shutdown comes to Gitmo
57. We sell our house
58. Fun R & R times
59. Happy 1 year GTMOversary to us! (including a video)